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May 4, 2014

San Francisco (15) The Warhol factory

Our title is misleading, as usual. And unfair to Warhol.

Anyhow, while we are at it: somewhere around 1966, the term Pop Art made it to Europe, and the name of its inventor, Andy Warhol. There were also pictures of the guy, and from the first picture I saw I fell in love with him, especially with his hair. Great, I thought, great, that's the hair I want. Blond, ebullient, expansive (the hair sticking out), extraneous even, subversive, inspired.

Andy Warhol: Self portrait

Andy Warhol died in 1987, in tabula, i.e., not the way you would have expected him to die after having watched too many clips of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground (one of the productions of his factory), or of Joe Dallesandro, the hunkiest hunk ever, another one of his productions, no, he died on the operating table.

Lou Reed

He had always been afraid of surgeons and their operating tables, fearing that surgery might kill him. And then he went to undergo some minor surgery, something went wrong with the anesthesia, or his body, or his heart beat, and boom. He was 58 years old.

Joe Dallesandro and Rodolfo Valentino (Valentino is extraneous to this story)

In 1994 I started to lose my hair.

 Joe Dallesandro 

In ca. 1998 I learned from an article in the Trib that Warhol's hair wasn't his hair, that he had started balding early on in his life and wore wigs instead.

 Joe Dallesandro
In ca. 1998 I decided to get a wig.

 Joe Dallesandro and admirer 

On April 30, 2014, I googled for "wigs San Francisco" and was sent  internet-wise  to a place nearby, on Mission cross 26th Street. The Hair Factory.

 Joe Dallesandro 

On May 1, 2014, I came out. To my partner. Chang. That I had been dreaming of Warhol's wigs for a long time, and that his Hair Factory would sell me one. Price range "$$" (range is  between $ and $$$$$ for San Francisco retail). Whatever that means.

 Joe Dallesandro 

On May 1, 2014, in the afternoon, Chang & I entered a temporary truce (think North- vs South Korea). We would have a tentative look at the place.

 Joe Dallesandro 

On May 1, 2014, around 5:30 PM, we enter the premises of the Hair Factory. A fairly large room, two sales people so to see. A wig store, all right, racks with wigs on display, each wig propped onto a plastic head, ca 300 wigs on female plastic heads, 50 wigs on male plastic heads. An elderly woman moves past us while we are trying to get a grip. She ignores us and disappears behind the sales counter. The other sale person is a man, also elderly, they are possibly married, the sales people, he also ignores us. I walk along the racks. Up and down, mostly in the male section. I'm curious about the hair, how would it feel. I touch a wig. "NO NO," the elderly salesman yells behind me.

 Joe Dallesandro 

I'm trying to explain to the man that I'm trying to buy a wig. He is unimpressed. I turn to the woman. "I'm interested in wigs," I say, "a wig for myself, because I'm balding." She appears first unimpressed, then disgusted. Whether I could try a couple of wigs, I insist. No, you can't. Yes you can, but first you have to buy a hair cap. She points at a hand-written sign on the cash machine. Buy a hair cap for 2 $$$, plus, there would be a fee of 5 $$$ being charged for/in the event of actually trying a wig.

 Joe Dallesandro 

I get the thing about the hair cap (they try to keep the wigs clean/uninfected). I sort of understand the 5 $$$ charge, they are poor devils, what else can you do when you sell wigs all your life to balding tourists.

 Joe Dallesandro
Okay. I buy the cap and hand over the extra $$$. I'll keep the cap, I say, because I'd like to sleep over the eventual purchase of a wig prior to engaging in the act (of actually buying one).

 Joe Dallesandro 

"NO NO," the couple yells, if you come back tomorrow, you have to buy a new cap.
"I keep the cap, okay," I say "why should I buy another cap tomorrow."
"NO NO," the couple yells, and points at the hand-written sign that says nothing about keeping or re-using hair caps.

 Joe Dallesandro 

Okay, I had paid the 7 $$$ already, so we're into wig-trying now. I want to look like an elderly rock star, I say (only option). I like the wigs, sort of. The guy doesn't get it. Anyhow, I try two wigs, and point to three other wigs I'd also like to try.

Joe Dallesandro in 2009 (at age 61)


"NO NO," the guy yells, and points at another sign, saying you have maximal 15 minutes to try your wigs. Then you pay anther 5 $$$ for
another wig-trying session. Not Andy's fault.

MIchael Ampersant with Brad Pitt's hair

(Joe Dallesandro is still alive and well)

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